Warren sweeps: Gardner’s hat trick powers Lady Warriors over Tigers

VINCENT – The Warren High girls soccer team found the net early and often Thursday evening en route to a 5-2 victory over arch rival Marietta.

The Lady Warriors (1-0) treated the home crowd to a victory in what was their season-opening match.

“Most of the time we controlled the game,” said Warren head coach Ekrem Eksi. “We had quick goals and that helped us.”

The loss dropped Marietta’s record to 1-1 on the year.

Raelyn Gardner was the star of the contest, scoring three of Warren’s five goals. Raeli Barnes put in the other two netters for the Warriors, while Audrey May and Katie Miller scored a goal each for the Lady Tigers.

Gardner got the scoring going just over six minutes into the match. She jolted up the left side of the field and booted the ball to the right side of the goal, just out of the reach of Marietta goalie Nora Gulick, to put Warren on the board.

The Tigers answered almost a minute later, as a nice upfield pass by Sami Koons set up May up the middle, and her shot got past Warren goalie Janelle Barth to tie the game up.

From there it was essentially all Warren.

In a six minute span, Gardner and Barnes each struck for unassisted goals, giving the Warriors a 3-1 lead with 22 minutes left in the first half.

With both teams fighting hard, it looked like the match would go into halftime at a 3-1 score. Gardner had other plans as, with two minutes left, she sped past the Tiger defense and was able to sneak in a goal just under the hands of the Tiger keeper to complete the hat trick and give Warren a 4-1 lead.

“She’s a fast, fast girl,” Eksi said of Gardner. “If she can finish, she can make a goal like today.

“She always gets into goal position and that’s very important. She capitalized today and I hope she can capitalize in other game, too.”

The defenses tightened up in the second half, as each team was held scoreless for the first 21 minutes of the half.

That ended when Barnes nailed her second goal of the match to make it a 5-1 Warren lead.

Marietta did not give up in spite of the four-goal deficit.

With 11:48 remaining in the game, Koons attempted a free kick. Her shot appeared to be heading to the far end of the goal, and Warren keeper Barth appeared to have it in her sites. Miller then swooped in seemingly out of nowhere and bumped the ball off her chest and into the net to cut it to a 5-2 game.

“I thought Warren played really well,” said Marietta head coach Jeff Price.

“Really composed. I think our girls gave it a good effort, I just think we lack a little bit of experience. Hopefully we learned a lot.”

The Tigers had 17 shots on goal and the Warriors had 15. Marietta’s Gulick notched four saves while Barth had seven for the Warriors.

“The first half I can say that we were the more dominating team,” Eksi said.

“The second half it was a more even game. I think we slowed down a bit and Marietta picked it up.”

The Warren JV team also won by a count of 2-1. Katie Ryan and Molly Leach each had goals for the Warriors while Emma Booth scored the Tigers’ lone goal.

Both teams are back in action Saturday. Marietta hosts Rosecrans at 1 p.m. while Warren is on the road against Lancaster Fisher Catholic at noon.